BLOOMINGTON — Officials at McLean County Animal Control are working to erase the stigma that comes with any government-operated animal control facility.
Thanks to several community partnerships, the center at 9279 N. 1375 East Road, south of Bloomington, is increasing its adoption numbers and lowering euthanasia rates — especially for adult cats, which tend to be the most difficult to place.
“Over the past several years we have seen a steady decline on euthanasia and we no longer euthanize animals to make space. I would like to continue on this same track, saving every adoptable pet possible,” said Marshell Thomson, MCAC director.
More than 560 cats were housed at MCAC in 2017, and most of the cats were adopted or transferred.
Of the 540 dogs housed at the center in 2017, more than half were returned to their owners with many being adopted or transferred.
MCAC has connected with local rescue shelters like Wish Bone Canine Rescue and Humane Society of Central Illinois and with Twin City veterinarians and local businesses to increase potential adoptions of cats and dogs.
“Tractor Supply is a community partner we recently identified. They are very animal friendly. They put up a cat tower and housed adoptable cats at the store in Bloomington. Every cat housed there has been adopted,” said Thomson.
An estate donation from the late Jayne and Eric Menssen of Secor allowed MCAC to fund health care for impounded animals through local veterinarians Eric Nord of Nord Animal Hospital in Bloomington and Matt Fraker of Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal.
“Getting cats adopted is tough,” said Fraker. “The placement roadblocks we run into isn’t so much if it’s an older cat or younger cat, it’s the sheer number of cats that go through a facility.”
Officials said "kitten season" kicks off in the spring, making adult cats even harder to adopt.
The vets tend to shelter pets that arrive injured or sick, which increases their chance of adoption or transfer to a local rescue shelter.
“Historically, animal controls have been part of the health department and their mandate is to protect the public from sick or dangerous animals,” said Nord. “The cool thing is, we can still do that while protecting the animals. They’re good animals that just happen to be lost or unwanted and we want to give them a forever home.”
Fraker said animal control facilities “aren’t horrible places that don’t care about animals.”
“This is the hub of animal rescue. They’re performing a mandate given to them by the county, but these people are stewards of animals,” he said. "Marshell has brought in these efforts to make this a placement facility instead of a death facility."
Thomson said it’s common to see MCAC volunteers and employees carrying kittens in their sweater pockets and bottle feeding stray puppies. MCAC also places for adoption other stray and abandoned animals like horses, reptiles, birds and rodents, which are often transferred to local rescue centers.
“We are the first responders to animals in need,” she said. “Everyone should support their local animal control.”
Support can be given to MCAC through donations, either monetarily or through supplies. Animal lovers can sponsor a pet’s adoption fee at the center or foster an animal until it finds a home. Needed items are pet beds, towels, treats and toys.
Items also can be purchased through the McLean County Animal Control wishlist on Amazon.com.
Anyone interested in volunteering or adopting an animal can call 309-888-5060 or visit the center Monday through Saturday.
Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer